Police union blasts handling of Utah nurse arrest probe same day patient dies
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The reserve officer who a Utah nurse was arrested for defending in a viral video has died.
Rigby police posted the news to their Facebook page Monday evening. Reserve Officer Bill Gray was driving a truck for his job when he was hit by a driver fleeing from state police. The accident left Gray with severe burns to 46 percent of his body.
“Since the event he has been at the University of Utah burn unit, where he has received the best and most skillfull care available. He has been in a long hard fight. Tonight, his body lost this fight.”
Gray is survived by his wife, April.
The news comes the same day the Salt Lake Police Association sent a letter to the mayor and police chief criticizing the way the investigation into the July 26th incident was handled. It said it is “extremely concerned and dismayed” about handling that has “corrupted” the high-profile investigation, The Deseret News reported.
“The premature release of body cam footage is particularly demoralizing as it allows the public who have not trained as police officers to make what often amounts to biased and ill-informed judgments of the police,” association president Stephen Hartney said in a letter.
The mayor and police chief both apologized to nurse Alex Wubbels after dramatic body-camera video was released that showed her trying to explain she couldn’t allow a blood draw on Gray, who was unconscious at the time. Wubbels stated it violated hospital policy and even got her supervisor on the phone.
However, Detective Jeff Payne’s supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, told Wubbels she could be arrested if she didn’t allow the blood draw. The dispute ended with Payne dragging the nurse outside as she screamed she’d done nothing wrong.
Both men were placed on paid leave after the video drew condemnation and prosecutors opened a criminal probe of their actions.
The video itself was released by Wubbels and her lawyer, who obtained it through a public records request.
Police Chief Mike Brown declined comment on the letter, though spokeswoman Christina Judd told The Associated Press that Brown recognizes the union works diligently on behalf of officers.
Brown is weighing possible discipline for the officers that could include firing.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski continues to believe that the police behavior shown in the video was unacceptable, but she’s carefully avoided influencing the outcome of the investigation in the extraordinary situation, spokesman Matthew Rojas said.
In an unusual step aimed at repairing what Biskupski called a rift in public trust, she spoke publicly about an internal investigation that found evidence policies were violated in the arrest.